French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal wrote, “All men seek happiness. This is without exception.”
I believe that deep down inside, everyone wants to be happy. In fact, I think God prewired us that way. Augustine said, “Every man, whatsoever his condition, desires to be happy.”
We may sometimes look at the rich and famous and think, “If I could live their life, I know I would be happy.”
Not according to Jim Carrey, who said, “I hope everybody could get rich and famous, and will have everything they ever dreamed of, so they will know that it’s not the answer.”
And comedian Dave Chappelle once said in an interview, “The higher up I go, for some reason, the less happy I am.”
That is nothing new. The Bible says that “hell and Destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied” (Proverbs 27:20, NKJV).
So is happiness a lost cause?
Not according to the Bible. Psalm 144:15 says, “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!” (NKJV). Happiness comes from a relationship with God.
People with faith in God are happy because we have hope. Hope brings believers happiness because we know there is more to life than what we experience in this world. We know there is an afterlife. We know there is a meaning to this life. We know that life isn’t just random.
Here is something that may come as a surprise to you: God is happy. Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:11, NLT).No doubt about it, Jesus was happy. No wonder children were drawn to him. People were drawn to Jesus because they could see his happiness.
In Romans 9, the apostle Paul described Jesus Christ as “the eternally blessed God” (verse 5, NKJV). The word blessed could be translated “happy.”
But not everyone sees God that way. Some may think that God is perpetually ticked off, or, at the very least, disinterested in us.
In Numbers 6, God instructed Moses to have the priests pronounce this blessing on the people: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace” (verses 24-26, NKJV).
God looks at you and smiles. He cares about you. He knows every detail of your life. God is not distracted. When you are calling out to the Lord, he isn’t checking out the newest Instagram post. He is looking at you. He is thinking about you. He loves you.
The Bible tells the story of someone who should have been happy by this world’s standards. He had everything we usually think a person should have to be happy. But he wasn’t happy at all, and that caused him to go to Jesus. He is often called the rich young ruler.
To be a ruler in those days, you had to be at least 30. This young man had climbed the corporate ladder, if you will. He was a powerful man. Today he would be the equivalent of a rock star, a pro athlete, or someone who has come into a lot of money early in life.
I can imagine him coming to Jesus in a tricked-out chariot with latte in hand. “Hey, Jesus,” he essentially said, “What good thing must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus said, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother'” (Mark 10:19, NKJV).
Jesus wanted to show this young man how much he needed forgiveness, because he had broken the commandments.
But the young man said, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth” (verse 20, NKJV).
The Bible says that “Jesus, looking at him, loved him” (verse 21, NKJV).
But then Jesus called his bluff. He said, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me” (verse 21, NKJV).
We don’t read of Jesus ever saying this to anyone else. So why did Jesus say this to him? Because this young man was breaking the first two commandments: 1) Have no other gods before him, and 2) don’t worship false gods.
Some people worship stuff. Some people worship themselves. Some people worship their careers. Some people worship what they drive. This man worshiped money, and he “went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (verse 22, NKJV). He went away sad instead of happy.
Today, each of us has the same choice this young man had. You can be sad, or you can be glad. You can believe what God says in the Bible, put your faith in Jesus, experience joy and happiness in your life, and have the hope of heaven when you die. Or, you can live without God and continue trying to fill a hole in your heart with all the stuff this world has to offer.
Happiness doesn’t have to be a lost cause. The choice is up to you.